Installing applications, games, and such in Ubuntu is usually quite easy, thanks to the Synaptic Package Manager. However, if you’re using Ubuntu (and Linux) for the first time, you may find the typical installation procedure somewhat confusing, if you can even figure out what you need to do in the first place. This guide will help you learn how to use Synaptic and install programs.
Here’s how it works
First, you’ll probably want to ensure that you’ve enabled the Universe and Multiverse repositories in your sources.list. If you don’t know how to enable repositories, you can go here to learn.
After you’ve ensured that you have the Universe and Multiverse repositories enabled, go to System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager. Enter your password, if asked, and you should then find yourself staring at Synaptic, like this:
If you just altered your sources.list, click on ‘Reload’ at the top left of the screen to sync your repositories with the Package Manager. With Synaptic, you have thousands of free online software packages at your fingertips. For our example, we’ll say that you just visited the Linux Game Tome, browsed for a good new game, and you decided to install Globulation 2 because of its positive reviews.
To install the game, you will first click ‘Search’ at the top of the Package Manager. Because package names don’t necessarily match with program names, your best bet is usually to try a “Description and Name” search. So enter “Globulation 2” in the search field.
In this case, the package is named “glob2,” and you should see it appear in the upper right-hand portion of Synaptic. To install it, click the box next to the package name, then “Mark for Installation.”
To finalize the installation, click ‘Apply’ at the top of the Package Manager, then kick back and relax while Synaptic takes care of everything for you; it will install and configure the program, and if you’re lucky, it will also create an entry for you in your menu.
Hey, I installed something, but I can’t find it!
Globulation 2, as it turns out, does show up in your Games menu after you install (Applications->Games->Globulation 2). In most cases, packages will take care of creating menu entries for themselves. However, if a program doesn’t show up on its own, you can create a menu entry for it without much hassle.
So, if it doesn’t show up, here’s what you need to do: Go to Applications->Accessories->Alacarte Menu Editor. On the left side of Alacarte, click on the category in which you’d like to see your program. Then go to File->New Entry. Enter the program name (this name will show in your menu), a comment (this will appear when you hold your mouse over the new entry), and the command needed to start the program. The Globulation 2 entry looks like this:
The command is almost always the program name. You can test a command by entering it in the Terminal. In our example, we see that glob2, which was the package name, is the appropriate command. Finally, if you’d like an icon for your new menu entry, just click on ‘No Icon’ in Alacarte and select an icon from the available options. If you really want to be neurotic, you can hunt down a small icon for the program on the internet, or create your own, and save it to usr/share/pixmaps.